Ontario Workplace and the Legalization of Cannabis

As the most populous province in Canada, Ontario finds itself at the forefront of the cannabis industry. Over half of all current licensed medical marijuana grow operations are in Ontario and they will be expanding to accommodate recreational users as part of Bill C-45, the Cannabis Act, which is scheduled to go into effect July 1, 2018. Given the gravity of the proposed shift in legislation, Ontario employers need to understand all they can about how the Cannabis Act will impact their business and their employees.

Ontario Taking The Lead

On September 8, Ontario was the first province to announce a rollout plan for marijuana legalization.  Under the proposed plan, The Liquor Control Board of Ontario will be mandated with distributing and selling recreational cannabis online and in retail locations. In cannabis-specific retail outlets, all marijuana products will be sold “behind the counter,” just as tobacco products are sold. Dispensaries currently operating in Ontario will be shut down through a coordinated approach with police forces and local municipalities.

What Ontario Employers Need to Know About Cannabis Legalization

Employers in Ontario are left with many questions about how to respond to this major shift in the legal landscape. Here are some important facts employees should know today:

  • Employers can reasonably expect employees to show up sober and ready to work safely. As with alcohol, employees will not have the right to work in an impaired state. With the exception of medical users, employers will still be entitled to discipline employees if their job performance is impacted by marijuana use.
  • Employers can restrict the use and possession of marijuana in the workplace. Under the Cannabis act, marijuana will become a legal “after-hours” activity, but employers have the right to ban it from the workplace.
  • Medical users are protected under section 25 of Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act. Ontario employers are required to accommodate employees with disabilities to the point of undue hardship. Employers may be required to authorize a leave of absence or reassign employees to other duties.
  • Accommodations will need to be balanced against providing safe workplaces. Safety-sensitive jobs, such as those that involve the operation of vehicles and heavy machinery, could create hazards if employers are accommodating someone using prescription marijuana.

The proposed and potential changes to cannabis legislation are leaving Ontario businesses with more questions than answers. However, it is critical for employers in Ontario to stay informed as things begin to solidify so they are prepared to respect the rights of their employees while simultaneously protecting their organisation from liability.

Partner With a Professional Staffing Firm to Stay Current

When you have a business to run, it can be difficult to keep up with changes like those outlined in the Cannabis Act. Partnering with a specialized staffing partner can ensure your hiring process not only fast and effective, but also compliant with Ontario standards. Employment Professionals Canada are market leaders when it comes to helping you navigate this changing landscape. If you’re looking for talent in Ontario, let the experts at Employment Professionals Canada help you achieve your recruiting and hiring goals.